A Shelter in Time of Storm.

Three Gospel writers record the narrative found in Mark 6:45-52. Mark writes with his theme in mind: Jesus as servant (Mark 10:45).


This incident occurs after Jesus fed the crowd of 5000 (Mark 6:30-44). Jesus is becoming more popular. He performed many healings in Mark 1-3 and called 12 disciples to be His formal followers. He delivered a demon-possessed man in chapter 5 and sent 70 of His disciples out to other towns in Mark 6:7-13.

When our passage begins, the disciples were probably simultaneously exhausted and enamored with their fame in connection to Jesus. Jesus sent them off on a boat, dismissed the crowd, and went aside Himself to pray.


The end of our narrative reveals that the disciples' hearts were still hard after the miraculous feeding (Mark 6:52). The development of servants of Christ always takes time. We often don't recognize the hardness of our hearts until Jesus puts us in a stormy situation. We seek always to be growing, serving, and learning, while knowing that we all have room to grow. Even with our shortcomings, Jesus still desires to grow us and use us.

Despite their exhaustion, all the disciples still obeyed Jesus' order to get in the boat. Grace compels us despite our human weaknesses and struggles.

Sometimes obedience leads us into storms. The Sea of Galilee was shallow like Lake Erie, so wind caused storms to come up quickly. John's account of this story tells us they were 3-4 miles across (about halfway) at 3 a.m. They rowed against the wind for about 4 hours. By the time Jesus showed up, their "straining" had brought them to the end of their strength.


As his disciples are straining, Jesus has been praying. Servants of God love to pray. They are never disinterested in obedience or the suffering of the saints.

As the omniscient Creator, Jesus knew what situation his disciples were in. He begins to walk, purposefully but not anxiously. He knows exactly how fast to move to reach His hurting saints just in time. Hebrews 13:5 assures us that Christ is always with us; but He makes His help known at just the right time when we are in pain.

Of the "ways to escape" when we are under a trial (1 Corinthians 10:13), Jesus is always the first. As one caring father consoled his hurting son, "Sometimes no one can help you but Jesus. Maybe you should go seek Him and stay there for awhile."

Jesus walks right next to the boat holding His disciples and tells them to stop feeling their terror. The God-Man joins them in the storm and gets into the boat with them. As soon as He does, there is immediate calm in the winds and their hearts.

John 6:15-21 adds detail of their immediately reaching the other side of the lake; they are also immediately safe physically. Jesus gets them back on course, arriving exactly where they were told to go. Storms sometimes cause us to drift off course, but Jesus is there. He always assumes our desire to obey and gets us back where He wants us to be.

Matthew 14:22-33 tells us that the disciples' response was worship. They appropriately responded with a greater commitment and deeper service to their Lord Jesus.

Other Gospel accounts also add Peter's experience to this incident. Known as the impulsive disciple, he took his willingness to obey to the next level. When he took his eyes off Jesus, he allowed himself to be distracted and sunk in the waves. Jesus still gave Peter a way to escape and rescued him.

Application Points

  • Are you at the end of yourself? The disciples reached that spot too. Know that feeling is normal and okay even for servants of Christ. He is never disinterested when we are suffering.
  • Can you see the grace of God at work in your life, compelling you to trust and obey Him? Are stormy situations revealing areas of your heart that need to be softened? How will you grow through this time?
  • What is your compulsion in our unique situation? Have you seen Jesus' compassion as your comfort? Though many circumstances may change, our relationship to God and its responsibilities do not: Keep obeying; keep serving; keep trusting in Him. Fear is understandable, but Jesus is our shelter. He will help us get where He wants us to be.

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • Philippians 3:7-17 – Always growing.
  • Job 42:5 – Always trusting.
A Hymn to Encourage: "A Shelter in the Time of Storm"

The Lord’s our Rock, in Him we hide,
A Shelter in the time of storm;
Secure whatever ill betide,
A Shelter in the time of storm.

Oh, Jesus is a Rock in a weary land,
A weary land, a weary land;
Oh, Jesus is a Rock in a weary land,
A Shelter in the time of storm.

A shade by day, defense by night,
A Shelter in the time of storm;
No fears alarm, no foes afright,
A Shelter in the time of storm.

The raging storms may round us beat,
A Shelter in the time of storm;
We’ll never leave our safe Retreat,
A Shelter in the time of storm.

O Rock divine, O Refuge dear,
A Shelter in the time of storm;
Be Thou our Helper ever near,
A Shelter in the time of storm.